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Reef Madness? (No, It's Art)

A Bay Head-based marine biologist and artist creates a 40-foot-long concrete and steel horseshoe crab for the state Department of Environmental Protection's artificial reef program.

Posted May 9, 2011 by Lindsay Berra

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Christopher Wojcik
Bay Head artist and marine biologist Christopher Wojcik is creating a 40-foot-long concrete and steel horseshoe crab, which will be submerged as a reef.
Photo by Marc Stein/Agency New Jersey.

Christopher Wojcik
A replica of the reef design.
Photo by Marc Stein/Agency New Jersey.

The prehistoric arthropod commonly known as the horseshoe crab has been on earth for 450 million years. Christopher Wojcik of Bay Head can only hope his anthropod will last a fraction of that time. Wojcik is building a 40-foot-long concrete and steel crab, the first installment in his Art as Reef Project, on a barge on the Point Pleasant Beach waterfront. It will take approximately eight weeks to construct and will be fully visible to the public as the work proceeds.

“The horseshoe crab represents the longevity of the sea and it’s the perfect shape for a reef,” says Wojcik, an artist, marine biologist and scuba instructor. “It has a lot of area underneath for things to hide, lots of surface area for mussels and barnacles to attach to and it’s shaped to withstand currents and waves.”

Upon completion, Wojcik’s crab will be sunk—probably toward the end of the summer—as part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s artificial reef program. Sites for the reefs are chosen for their accessibility and are usually within a few miles of a major inlet. Wojcik’s crab will reside at either the Sea Girt or Axel Carlson site, both about five miles from the mouth of the Manasquan Inlet, in about 80 feet of water. Typically, objects such as old ships and subway cars and concrete and steel construction rubble make up the reefs. Wojcik hopes his sculptures will provide a more aesthetically pleasing—and educational—experience for divers and fisherman.

The project, a partnership with the Blue Ocean Institute, also is intended to increase public awareness of critical maritime issues. “I’ll have people’s eyes and ears,” says Wojcik, “so I’ll be able to pass on good conservation messages about the ocean.”

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